Douglas senior wins Poetry Out Loud |

Douglas senior wins Poetry Out Loud

Staff Reports
Douglas High school senior Vanessa Blackwell was the winner of the Poetry Out Loud competition.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

Douglas High School senior and honor student Vanessa Blackwell will attempt to bring the state Poetry Out Loud crown to Douglas County for a second time when she competes in the finals, held at KNPB Public Television in Reno March 19.

Vanessa participated in the competition in Douglas in 2013 when she was attending Carson Valley Middle School.

She is a senior advanced placement English student, who performed one poem at the local competition, two poems for the district competition, and she will prepare a third poem to add to her repertoire for the competition held in Vegas in March, advisor Karen Heini said.

“She’s a talented young lady with a gift for poetry,” Heine said.

Last year’s state winner, Dominque Groffman is a Douglas High School graduate and is attending Columbia University in New York.

Now in its 11th year, Poetry Out Loud is a distinctive national arts education initiative that encourages students to learn about, memorize, and finally present poetry—out loud. Structured similarly to the National Spelling Bee, Poetry Out Loud begins in classrooms across the state as high-school-aged students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage through memorization and performance of classic and contemporary poetry. Students advance from school to district competitions and then to the Nevada State Finals, where the stakes are high.

The Nevada State Champion receives $1,000 and his or her school receives $1,000 for poetry and literary programs. Those placing second and third each receive $500 and $500 for their schools. The state champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on May 2-4 in Washington, D.C., where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

The 2015 State Champion was DHS senior Dominique Groffman. Dylan Baker, a senior at College of Southern Nevada High School West in Las Vegas, and Whitney Reyes, a junior at Reno’s Wooster High School, placed second and third.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with Cultural Alliance Nevada, Nevada Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

The Holland Project is coordinating the Washoe County District Semi-Finals. For event information, call 742-1858.

For information on the state finals and Poetry Out Loud Program, contact Maryjane Dorofachuk, Nevada Arts Council arts learning coordinator, at (702) 486-3738 or; or visit Follow the events on social media using #iampoetryoutloud.